Dear Kamau Nkosi,
You are a silent feminist. Not a loud, verbose, self-righteous, attention-seeking, ‘all-hail-feminism’ type of feminist. You have never been the one to post soliloquies on Facebook to parade your liberalism or acceptance of gender equality. Because, for you, your actions are more important than words posted on a digital platform where sentences and ideas live only for half a second.
You are the feminist that attacks with calculated intentions.
You penetrate the thirsty minds who thought they knew about systematic enslavement, second wave feminism, the prison-industrial complex, Angela Davis, bell hooks, and Sybrina Fulton and challenge them so nonchalantly that they have to self-reflect on their own ignorance and misconceptions.
When I say you are a feminist, some people might think of it as a negative. But I ask: why can’t a man be a feminist? I don’t understand why some men are afraid to claim feminism as a philosophy that they believe. In their minds, feminism equates to radicalism or women only. In reality, feminism utilizes race, sex, gender, and class as tools of analysis to address economic reform, health care, stop and frisk laws, social issues, and politics. It’s an all-inclusive philosophy that should be integrated in the way we think about policy and reform. It should not be considered the exception or an option women seek because they hate men.
When you organize events like the Bronx Defender’s Block Party, Youth Justice Summit and your trips to City Hall to rally on behalf of Ramarley Graham, you stay awake countless nights planning, pondering, sending emails, and worrying because your passion for justice is not just a thing you do. It is who you are.
I see your love for feminism when you buy me books by bell hooks and expose me to shows like “The Wire” where the victims are chained to a socioeconomic space from which they are unable to escape. Because black mothers couldn’t be mothers, black fathers couldn’t be fathers, and teachers can’t teach because politics and power govern policy and the police. And in the end, jail becomes home to petty crimes and black faces that thought selling heroine would grant them self-esteem.
In reality, no else was around to teach them how to dream.You realize that the tools for self-empowerment and self-liberation are not equally distributed amongst everyone.
You understand that beauty wears many shades, comes in different heights, and in different shapes. And despite the shortness of my kinky golden curls, you have never sent me a text message that read “I think you look better with long hair, a woman should have long hair.” Hair, for you, never determined a woman’s beauty. It was the confidence and the way she carried her crown that made her beautiful. Thank you for never placing beauty in a box.
Even though you are quiet in your actions, you are deliberate and thoughtful. You may not knock on a thousand doors to announce your presence or intentions. But when you decide to knock on one, it has a ripple effect and everyone listens…including myself.